Response to Tom Shepstone, Paid Fracking Propagandist

[The letter below is a letter to the editor responding to an Op-Ed published in the Patriot news 8.3.12 by Energy In Depth’s Tom Shepstone. His original can be found here:]


Dear Editor:

What Pennsylvania citizens need to know about Energy in Depth is that “it was created by major oil and gas companies” “to devise and circulate ‘coordinated messages’” after the model of successful national political campaigns, and that Tom Shepstone is their well-paid propagandist. EID is financed by BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, CNYOG, and XTO (Exxon-Mobil) among others. But if that’s insufficient to dismiss Shepstone’s absurd 8.3.12 letter touting the benefits of slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing—fracking, consider:

Act 13—the PA law stripping municipalities of the power to regulate industry’s impact on the health and welfare of its residents—has been found unconstitutional because it “violates due process,” and “do[es] not protect the interests of those living near drilling sites, alter[s] the character of neighborhoods and create[s] “irrational classifications.”

Yet Shepstone defends it by insisting that local officials “know nothing about” drilling. Big Frack-Daddy Tom Corbett ($1,042,116 campaign donations from the natural gas industry), in other words, knows best. And with his appointments of Michael Krancer (Counsel for Exelon—coal, oil, and natural gas production, 2008—and head of the DEP) and C.A. Walker (CEO, Bradford Coal, and Corbett’s appointment to the DCED—and no less than 15 documented cases of water pollution involving 173 million gallons of untreated mine water)—Act 13 would have effectively pre-empted the rights of municipalities to, for example, prevent frack pads, compressor stations, and pipelines—and all their necessary infrastructure— from being constructed within 300 ft. of your kid’s school, your grandma’s nursing home, your community hospital, or YOUR HOUSE if you’re “lucky” enough to be a “Shaler.”

Shepstone’s claim that fracking profits will create economic prosperity for Pennsylvanians is also false. Kevin Bogos (AP) reports that natural gas production is destined for “resource curse”: since the lion’s share of natural gas is slated for export, “the general population hardly benefits, while a few get very rich.” Indeed, the MARC I pipeline effectively guarantees precisely that. We shouldn’t be surprised. This is the story of King Coal, Big Oil, Big LNG, and now Big Gas. And the players are all the same: see above—and add Chesapeake, Cabot, WPA, Aqua America, Chief, EXCO, Exelon, and Range Resources.

While CEO’s like Aubrey McClendon (Chesapeake) and Nick DeBenedictis (Aqua America), and their frack buddies in the Corbett administration (not to mention the Marcellus Shale Coalition) are getting rich, Pennsylvania citizens will face:

Evidence of “hydrologic connectivity” found by Duke researchers who make it clear that “hydraulic fracturing for natural gas puts drinking-water supplies in Pennsylvania at risk of contamination.”

Exposure to carcinogenic, radioactive, and bio-cidal toxins via waste-pool evaporation, compressor station explosions, and illegal dumping of drilling mud.

The necessity of deep injection wells—documented by the USGS to cause earthquakes—for the permanent disposal of wastewater trucked to Ohio creating massive truck traffic with its attendant noise, toxic diesel emissions, and road destruction.

The egregious violation of property rights via the abuse of eminent domain, compulsory condemnation, and forced pooling.

The destruction of sensitive ecologies, endangered species, and potentially undiscovered microorganisms.

The loss of aesthetic, recreational, hunting, and fishing opportunities in state game lands, parks, and forestlands.

But what’s perhaps the most perverse aspect of Shepstone’s fracking-propaganda is his promotion of the alleged benefits for “the neediest among us.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Ask the former residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Community in Jersey Shore.

Evicted from their homes, offered an insulting pittance of $2500.00 to move, and potentially exposed to asbestos when Aqua America failed to perform the federally required inspection prior to demolition, these PA-citizens have a very different story to tell about the “benefits” of natural gas production (see “Wendy Lynne Lee,” Raging Chicken

And they’re not alone.

Indeed, the future of every citizen of the Commonwealth is at stake. Fracking is a form of genocidal profiteering. Genocidal because paid propagandists like Shepstone KNOW the hazards, and profiteering—well, that part’s pretty obvious. Just ask the gentlemen cited here what they made last year—and what they expect to make once those shipments to China get underway.


Wendy Lynne Lee

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  1. Your Tax Dollars at Work ?
  2. The natural gasin NY might not be as lucrative as once believed


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